Thursday, April 25, 2019
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20190116 CHI Thrift Volunteers 1038“It’s all about the kids,” is the reason given by volunteers working in the thrift store at Children’s Haven International (CHI), located at 400 East Minnesota Road in Pharr.

“We give our time here to support the ministry in Reynosa [Mexico],” said Pastor Garland Hudson, who with his wife, Marilyn, are full-time residents at Pharr South Park. “It is a fantastic ministry there.”

The pastor, who doesn’t look 95 years old, was referring to CHI’s operation of a community school and seven group homes for 60 children in Reynosa. And the thrift store sales are an important aspect to support the children’s home, and at the same time provide low-cost items to many shoppers from the community. The shop helps other ministries on both sides of the border.

The couple, who hail from Minnesota originally, come regularly on Fridays and spend much of their time sorting clothing donations for the store and whatever else is needed.

But the pastor’s main ministry is giving out gospel tracts. “My real desire is to help everyone possible to know Christ,” he added. “

Hudson, a cheerful, friendly person, wasn’t always that way. In fact, he had a tough start in life with his father walking out on the family when he was just seven years old. While he said his mother tried, she couldn’t provide for him and he was sent to work on a farm. He laughed when he said his milking of cows was “udderly useless.”

He took to drinking and it continued into his U.S. Navy service during World War II. But he said he found the Lord through his alcohol problem after six DUI’s, time in jail and the loss of his railroad job.

Hudson recalls it was March 19, 1948, when after finishing off a fifth of whiskey, he said, “I wish I could be saved, but didn’t see why God would die for him. A pastor helped him see the answer, which led to earning a GED diploma, since he had no high school education.

He went off to Northwestern Bible College in Minneapolis, where his grammar was considered so poor, he was told he “wouldn’t make it.” However, that problem was overcome by spending 15 months in the U.S. and Canada with “God’s Invasion Army,” a group of 32 Christians who went door-to-door presenting the gospel message and holding nightly evangelistic services.

At a Youth for Christ rally in Willmer, Minnesota, he formally met his wife, Marilyn, in 1948. The couple spent the ensuing years pastoring churches in Minnesota and Iowa. Garland still speaks often in churches and Sunday school. They attend First Baptist Church in McAllen.

Marilyn, a former teacher, is an encourager, even now sticking Bible verses under door mats where those in their park have been going through difficult times. Homemade soup, cookies and cupcakes are other tools of her trade in encouragement.

Garland calls himself “blessed,” with three sons in ministry, one of them a missionary in Africa, another a CEO for a large church in Minneapolis and the third pastoring a church in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.

While Pharr South converted Texans and Winter Texans play a large role in the thrift store operation, so do residents from Bibleville in Alamo. They do various collections in their park, such as socks, light bulbs, rolls of toilet paper and toiletries, according to Betsy Chacon, the CHI director with her husband, Randall. She is very grateful for the park’s active participation over the last eight or nine years, which helps in replacing some RV parks no longer active with CHI.

A major fund-raising event will come in the spring, which requires the help of all the volunteers. The affair includes a banquet, bake sale, a style show and silent auction. Some of the best fun comes during the live auction with some unbelievable high bids, like hundreds of dollars for a birdhouse, according to Morton. She recalled having a pie she baked go for $1,000.

To learn more about Children’s Haven International call 956-787-7378 or stop at the thrift store on Minnesota Road, just east of Expressway 281. They are on Facebook and also have a website at www.childrenshaven.org.

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